Gooding’s Guide to Fitness
January 13, 2009 · Updated 1:21 PM
We’ve all been there: After leaving work, you get into your car and begin to drive home. As you drive, you see your gym two blocks ahead. You debate. You fret. You grip the steering wheel, palms sweating, and desperately will your car to deliver you to the gym. But alas, you keep driving toward home. Deep down, you know you haven’t been accountable to yourself, but find reasons to excuse yourself from exercising: “I’m too tired,” “Oprah is on,” “I wore the wrong socks.”
Many of us struggle with personal accountability, especially when it comes to exercise (myself included). Last week I discussed four attributes designed to help you achieve your New Year’s Fitness Resolution. First, your goal should be realistic and obtainable. Second, find ways to hold yourself accountable. Third, build a community of support around yourself; finally, prepare and plan for pitfalls. Last week, I discussed how to build an obtainable resolution, and this week, I’d like to focus on being accountable to yourself and to your goals. Obtainable goals are challenging, require planning, determination, and firm resolution. Don’t feel overwhelmed yet.
When I was teaching high school, one of my favorite sayings was “If you plan to learn, you must learn to plan.” Planning for success is critical when designing a fitness program. Because of my background as an educator, I believe in the effectiveness of putting goals in writing. Writing your goals on a piece of paper will make you more likely to follow through with your resolution. Once you’ve written your goal down, put it in a place you will see everyday. This piece of paper will be a visual reminder of your new commitment. Then, if you don’t already own one, purchase a calendar or daily planner and use it to plan your time for exercise. Schedule time for exercise, and make it a priority in your life.
To increase the likelihood of success, track of your progress and adherence to your exercise program. Once you’ve planned and written your exercise schedule, keep track of how often you exercise by writing that down, too. You may find that a personal trainer will aid in this process and keep you even more accountable. Each time you exercise, give yourself a star (because I’m a teacher at heart, a gold star is my favorite). In addition, keep a food diary. Many of my clients who keep food diaries are glad they do. Keeping track of their food intake is powerful information. They learn a lot by doing this, and are able to make changes and adjustments to their diet and eating habits. When documenting your nutrition, include what you ate, portion size, and time of day. If you track your exercise sessions and food intake, you will be able to analyze your habits, and make adjustments accordingly.
When you make progress toward your goal, reward yourself. Set up sub-goals within your overall goal, and treat yourself when you have reached that sub-goal. For example, if your overall intention is to run 20 laps around the M-PHS track, you may pause to celebrate your success once you are able to run eight laps without stopping, and then again when you are able to run 12. Rewarding yourself for adherence to your fitness program will help you stick with your program longer, so I encourage you do it. One word of caution: Do not, I repeat, do not reward yourself with food, or by allowing yourself to skip an exercise session. Instead, take yourself to a movie (skip the buttered popcorn), go for a walk on the beach, savor a massage, enjoy a long bath.
I ask you to commit to exercise, and embrace the challenge of sticking to an exercise routine. This week, don’t drive past that gym or skip working out. Determine to take care of yourself for the sake of your health, your family, and your friends. You are worth it, and you are valuable enough to make this commitment to yourself.
Look for my column next week which will focus on building a community of support. As always, I encourage you to email me with comments or questions. I love talking with fitness novices or exercise enthusiasts. Have a great week.
Angie Gooding is an educator and a personal trainer certified through ACE (American Council on Exercise) and owner of Inspire Fitness & Training. She lives locally, and trains clients in a private location in Marysville. She can be reached at AngieGooding@comcast.net or www.inspirefitnessandtraining.com.